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30 December 2008

Fake Hitler Quotes in a U.S. Army Film

Why We Fight is a series of short films that was produced by Frank Capra's Liberty Films for the U.S. Army Special Service Division in 1943, with Capra directing most of the episodes. You may have seen parts of this series on some unaffiliated UHF television station that had time to fill following an afternoon movie, or maybe even on a PBS station. Even today the History Channel is recommending that the series be used in schools. I am presenting this clip as an example of the brazen lying that was perpetrated by the Allies during World War II, which goes largely unchecked to this day, and also to arm you so that you may set others straight.

The purport of this film is that anti-war activists in the United States are serving an agenda of global conquest on the part of Adolf Hitler that includes conquest of the United States. The film takes considerable liberties to advance this thesis. Some of these liberties become glaringly obvious with just a little skepticism. For example, the narrator claims to know that global conquest was "the dream in Hitler's mind as he stood at Nuremberg" in 1934.

I find that discussions about Hitler's intentions usually come down to the interpretation of some statement attributed to him. Some of the provocative statements attributed to Hitler are things that he actually said, but many are either distortions or outright inventions. In this clip we get two alleged Hitler quotes that are demonstrably very bogus -- in fact they are outright inventions compounded with subsequent distortion -- yet they have been influential and are widely repeated, even by some people who seem to regard themselves as pro-Hitler.

First there is this, from 1:27 in episode #2 of Why We Fight:

"My motto is: Destroy by all and any means. National-Socialism will reshape the world."

Hermann Rauschning's The Voice of Destruction, later republished as Conversations with Hitler, seems to be the source for the first half of this quote. (Rauschning is not a trustworthy source. If you find that the source for a quote attributed to Hitler is Rauschning, that already invalidates it, but what we get in Capra's film is even worse than that.) We find a passage containing something almost identical with that sentence at the bottom of page 11 in Rauschning's book. The underlined words are those that appeared in the film.

"To me all means will be right. My motto is not: 'Don't, whatever you do, annoy the enemy!' My motto is: 'Destroy him by all and any means.' I am the one who will wage the war!" [Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction, p. 10]

The two sentences lumped together as a Hitler quote in the film do not appear together in this source-passage.

The film distorts the meaning of the sentence that appears here. When the film omits the word "him" from the sentence as it appears in Rauschning, then places a statement about National-Socialist designs on the world after that (without any indication of an ellipse such as "..." to indicate that the two sentences did not originally appear together ) it thereby places in Hitler's mouth a nihilistic declaration of war against the entire world, rather than a theoretical statement about how to conduct some hypothetical war against a hypothetical enemy, which is all that it seems to be in Rauschning.

The second clause of the alleged Hitler quote, "National-Socialism will reshape the world," appears nowhere in Rauschning. The closest approximation appears 133 pages after the passage containing the first clause. If we accept reshape as equivalent to recast, we can say that the screenwriters for Why We Fight cobbled together the following underlined words to form the second half of their fake Hitler quote:

"With the conception of race, National Socialism will carry its revolution abroad and recast the world." [Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction, p. 143]

Unlike the first clause, this line from Rauschning seems more or less consistent with the notion of National-Socialist worldwide subversion that the film was trying to convey, but remember that Rauschning's conversations with Hitler were already fraudulent before the Hollywood screenwriters got hold of them and started making modifications.

At 15:35 this statement is attributed to Adolf Hitler:

"I am willing to sign anything. I will do anything to facilitate the success of my policy."

This view attributed to Hitler is quite important, because it rules out negotiated peace with Hitler. It leaves war as the only option. The source for it alleged in the film is "Hitler Interview, October, 1933." But it's not a real interview. It's Rauschning again. It's on page 109 of Rauschning's The Voice of Destruction. This fake quote is still used by some shoddy professional historians, e.g. Martyn Housden at the University of Bradford (UK), and Christian Leitz at the University of Auckland, and David Jablonsky of the U.S. Army War College, are still quoting despite the fact that Rauschning's fraud was exposed in 1983.

This statement attributed to Ernst Hanfstaengl at 24:02 in the second episode of Why We Fight --

"Democracy has no convictions for which men would be willing to stake their lives."

-- also comes from Rauschning. It is a slightly simplified version of what Rauschning represents Hanfstaengl as saying on page 75 of The Voice of Destruction.

At 8:19 this appears:

"Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. That is the war of the future."

This alleged quote is all over the internet but in no instance that I have seen is a source cited.

After much searching I discovered that this too comes from Rauschning, who has been the same kind of one-stop source for outrageous claims about Hitler that the Iraqi National Congress was regarding Saddam Hussein. Here is the original fake quote:

"When the enemy is demoralized from within, when he stands on the brink of revolution, when social unrest threatens—that is the right moment. A single blow must destroy him. Aerial attacks, stupendous in their mass effect, surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination from within, the murder of leading men, overwhelming attacks on all weak points in the enemy's defense, sudden attacks, all in the same second, without regard for reserves or losses: that is the war of the future."

I have underlined the words that were cobbled together to create the fake Hitler quote for the film. As you can see, the film-maker added a layer of misrepresentation to this fake quote just as to the other one. Nowhere in the passage do you see the concatenation, ""Demoralize the enemy from within by ..." The perfect passive participle "demoralized" appears, but the imperative "Demoralize" does not. What we get in the film is really a distorted paraphrase of this already fake quote.

Even if the Hollywood screenwriters of Why We Fight didn't know that Rauschning was a fraudulent source, they at least knew that the way they were using Rauschning was dishonest.

Those screenwriters, by the way, were Eric Knight (son of a diamond merchant), Anthony Veiller (born in New York City), and Robert Heller (also born in New York City). Frank Capra was not a Jew but I cannot vouch for these three. Capra's co-director for this episode of Why We Fight, Anatole Litvak, was definitely a Jew. Litvak was born in the Ukraine. He moved to Germany to take advantage of opportunities there during the 1920s but then chose to leave Germany when the National-Socialists came to power.


Noel said...

This is great information.

Here's another quote falsely attributed to Hitler courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai B'rith: "A definite factor in getting a lie believed is the size of the lie. The broad masses of the people, in the simplicity of their hearts, more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one" (Cf., GLR's WHITE POWER, p.171-172). Page 232 of MEIN KAMPF has the real quote of Hitler condemning such chicanery.

Hadding said...

That passage about the big lie is on page 231 in the Sentry Edition of Ralph Manheim's translation, the one that has the foreword by Konrad Heiden.

The ADL quoted Hitler correctly; they just omitted the context, which was a commentary on how the Jews had tried to scapegoat General Ludendorff for Germany's loss of the First World War.

This kind of misrepresentation is more cautious than what Frank Capra did with Why We Fight. As far as I know I am the first to trace and debunk these alleged Hitler quotes.

Noel said...

You're doing a great service by digging this stuff up and exposing it to the light of day; and the English translations of German texts you've provided are great material for those of us who only speak English.

Signifier said...

I agree with what Noel wrote.